Tuesday, 9 December 2008

UK Censors Wikipedia: Part of me Dies

This is a fucking disgrace.

The Internet Watch Foundation (an unaccountable UK body that I am utterly ashamed of because it is a tool for censorship the like of which I'd never thought I'd see) has decided that the above image, the frankly terrible cover of a quite good album called "Virgin Killer" (if you live in the UK you won't be able to see that link as it is blocked) by German rockers Scorpions (you may recall their seminal soft-rock hit, "Wind of Change" and the fact that the lead singer, Klaus Meine, wears a daft hat) that has been out since 1976, is child pornography.

*cough*

Feel free to read that again.

The Internet Watch Foundation then applied pressure to various UK ISPs to block the page on Wikipedia, so that UK based web users can't see it. This is clearly utter rubbish, pointless censorship at its worst. Not only is the image and album some 32 years old and it's existence has not yet caused a massive outbreak in paedophiles or anyone feeling strong enough to censor it but the image is available through a massive range of Internet sources.

What next? We ban all of those? Ban this blog for showing the picture?

Utter madness.

Another reason this is an offensive farce, is that if you are based in the UK and want to access the page, Wikipedia have enabled a secure connection just here.

Also, my mind is drawn to what next? Perhaps Renoir's "Young Girl Bathing" is next...

Or Michael Fu's "Angelic Nude Girl"...

Or perhaps even Egon Schiele's (an artist who depicted many children naked in an erotic way) "Nude With Coloured Cloth"...

I can't stand censorship.

It takes the empowerment of decision making away from the citizen, it is as if they can't be trusted to make the right decision. It also begins a slippery descent into making art of any sort forbidden, controlled, overseen by unaccountable arbiter's of taste and we have progressed beyond this kind of backward thinking.

I hope that James Wales, founder of Wikipedia, does what this news story moots and takes The Internet Watch Foundation to court.

He certainly has my full support.

UPDATE: Hurrah! IWF has done the right thing and backed down, realising that it made an ass of itself. A small victory of sorts...

11 comments:

  1. Interesting. I must admit that I'm aroused by beautiful POST-pubescent girls, as is any normal man. Many women will try to tell you you're "sick" for coveting a 16 year-old girl, a child, but that's natural and the age of consent varies by culture and epoch.

    Regardless, 21 is young enough for me.

    I do, however, support the child pornography exception to the First Amendment in this country. It's worth noting that, although the United States ranks 29th in the world in terms of a free press (because of corporate ownership of the media), our freedom of speech laws are the most liberal in the world.

    The United Kingdom, Germany, France and other western European nations lag behind us, in that respect, perhaps because of necessity. We cannot have the same freedom everywhere and the same culture as we do in the United States. (I won't say "North America" because only Canadians say that; they can go fuck themselves with their irrelevant country.)

    Anyway, y'all sure have less freedom of speech than we do. In some small ways, it is dramatic.

    I would question that image, however. Is that a computer-generated image of a minor?

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  2. The US is also home to much of the world's porn, which is an odd mix.

    Indeed, Europe does lag and in a terrible way on this issue and this is a fine example.

    The album cover was not computer generated it was a girl model posing.

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  3. Uh, well correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't your beef really with the ISP's not the IWF? I mean if I understand the situation correctly (and please correct me if I'm not because this is the first I've heard it) the IWF merely puts out a list of material *they* find objectionable. A pretty reasonable thing to do. It's you ISP's who choose to block the content based on their list.

    Also, this isn't a free speech issue since free speech involves the State and the State seems to be absent from this equation.

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  4. Daniel is talking about censorship.

    There was a big to do, over Miley Cyrus, doing a Vanity Fair Magazine shoot, that was quite glam, for a Disney princess.

    Children are sexualized, all over pop culture.

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  5. Hi Scott, if I may I'll move to correcting the wrongness.

    The IWF is a self-regulating body (kind of) of the ISP, so my beef is with both but the idea that than independent, unaccountable agency that you can't even sue has such powers as these is pretty wrong. Especially when its so random.

    The IWF insist upon the blocking, they don't just put it on a list.

    And for me it is a free speech issue, the 'state's' involvement or not is not a cirteria for me, the issue at hand is a quango body wading in far too heavy on a serious issue what we can see and not see.

    We mock China and then we do something ignorant like this.

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  6. I am well with you on tjat one mate..Sink the Censor Ship.

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  7. Indeed, indeed Barnze. Nice to have you over here.

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  8. Posting all those nudey pics has give me the ragin' horn, you swine. Now I'm going to have to run off to the shed for a quick hand shandy...

    But seriously, I love the Scorpions album sleeve for its pure offensiveness. Pure Spinal Tap stuff. But there's a lot of censorship in music now, with many classic albums being repackaged with alternative sleeves in this age of political correctness. My first example is Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" LP - the original cover depicted a number of nude ladies and its appearance was iconic for the time. However, the Hendrix estate say that Jimi hated the sleeve and subsequent repressings have featured his mug instead. Shame. I love that sleeve, because it blew my mind as a fourteen-year-old. Wow - they got away with that. As a homage, when I was 17, I plastered my electric guitar with pornographic pictures in a pathetic attempt to shock. It was a celebration of the nude and the offensive - the whole idea of rock is to provoke a reaction, otherwise why bother?

    Another example is Blind Faith's eponymous album, which featured Ginger Baker's teenage daughter topless holding a model plane. I read an interview with the lady involved a while back and she was proud of the picture (again it was iconic of the time) but now subsequent reissues have been cropped so that you can't see her teenage titties.

    The question is whether or not this is pornography and considering that men can be aroused by almost anything, it probably is. I've never had a wank to an album sleeve, but I am sure that there are boys (and girls) who have. Did it warp my mind? Nope - I love women and the female form. I didn't turn me into a rapist or paedophile.

    Oh, I've prattled on enough. I'm off to ditch this horn. Toot-toot!

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  9. Darren, spot on as always friend, Blind Faith is particularly a good example.

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  10. Daniel, this is a profoundly insightful and, erm, revealing post! Glad to read that u emerged victorious! The whole so-called information society, as I have been writing about for a year in the local Sunday paper here, is so bloody tricky it's not funny; you have ICANN regulating the ISPs generally; then you have the UN that is being called to do proper regulation through internet governance forum structures, yet getting flack for trying to conquer the world.

    I have a problem with organisations like the one you mentioned that seek to make themselves visible by being finnicky abt suchlike issues; there are far more impt issues that need to be dealt with than monitoring sites like wikipedia for pictures like these!

    FYI: the UN a few weeks ago teamed up, through its telecoms agency--ITU--with police services and UN crime-fighting agencies to counter paedophilia and online pornography...

    nice post!

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  11. Thanks man, nice comment and thanks for info on UN, most useful.

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